By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
LAS VEGAS (CBS) — The Boston Celtics bolstered their frontcourt on Friday by adding veteran forward Marcus Morris to the mix in exchange for Avery Bradley and a second-round pick.
The University of Kansas product is widely known for being the twin brother of Wizards forward Markieff Morris, but what kind of game will Morris be bringing to Boston?
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Here’s a look at five things you should know about the 6-foot-9 forward.
1. He’s a below-average rebounder.
The Celtics are bringing a bigger body into the fold with Morris, but don’t expect him to provide much help with the team’s issues on the glass. He grabbed just 4.6 rebounds per game last year and an alarmingly low 12.8 percent of all available defensive rebounds when he was on the floor. Those are both lower numbers than 6-foot-2 Avery Bradley put together last year.
Some of that ugly production on the glass can be attributed to the presence of Andre Drummond in Detroit, who is one of the best rebounders in the league. The 6-foot-11 center didn’t give Morris the chance to grab many boards on either end of the floor, but the 6-foot-9 Morris has rebounded like a wing player for his whole career. The six-year veteran does a lot of things well, but opposing offenses should continue to get a lot of second-chance opportunities against Boston with him on the floor.
2. He’s a versatile defender.
While Morris may not have the skill-set to hit the glass well, he’s still recognized as a versatile defensive weapon. He has the foot speed to hang with bigger 3’s on the perimeter, while his 235-pound frame enables him to hold his own in the post against post players.
For a Celtics team that is a bit weak on depth at the power forward slot, Morris should fit in well. He spent most of his career in Detroit starting as an undersized power forward and can guard 2-3 positions in a pinch. Morris also specializes in slowing down the likes powerful forwards like LeBron James.
During the 2015-16 season, he was the best defender in the league according to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh. After getting torched by LeBron and Co. in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, you can bet that’s a stat that caught the eye of Boston’s front office.
3. He’s a streaky shooter.
While Morris is a respectable shooter overall, his percentages have been going down as he’s increased in 3-point attempts in volume over the last few seasons. In 2016-17, he shot just 33 percent from downtown on 4.5 attempts per game, the lowest mark of his career since his rookie year.
He’s a willing shooter, but not a reliable one, as his shooting averages have fluctuated between 33-38 percent from beyond the arc his whole career. The good news for Celtics fans is that Morris thrived in a pace-and-space offense in Phoenix earlier in his career. When surrounded by floor spacers out there, Morris shot a career-high 38 percent from beyond the arc and he should be surrounded by similar offensive firepower in an uptempo offense in Boston.
Morris is also a superb shooter from the corners (45.8 percent), so look for him to set up shop there often instead of above the break.
4. He’s on a bargain contract.
The Celtics already have one of the best non-rookie deals in the NBA on their roster in Jae Crowder, and they just added another one of them with Morris. The 26-year-old signed a four-year, $20 million extension back in 2014 and he’s still got two years left on that undermarket deal for Boston.
As a 14-point-per-game player, Morris would likely command at least $12 million per year if he was on the free agent market. Instead, the Celtics will have him for the next two seasons for less than half of that price. His presence will help the Celtics field a competitive and deep roster in the face of a rising payroll that could be dealing with luxury tax penalties as soon as 2018.
5. He’s durable.
One of the most important traits of a player in the NBA is availability. Some players are injury-prone. Others struggle to play through ailments. Through six seasons, Morris does not appear to be one of those guys.
After spending most of his rookie year on the bench, Morris has missed a total of 11 regular season games over the last five seasons. That’s important for a Celtics team that has been besieged by injuries for extended stretches of the last two seasons. Bradley has been one of the biggest culprits on that front (just two seasons with 75 games played). Morris will provide reliability in an aging frontcourt and that is something that Brad Stevens will be appreciate during an 82-game grind.